An estimated 13.2 million misdemeanor cases are filed in the United States each year. This number is overwhelming and concerning. Masses of poor and homeless people are sucked into an overburdened misdemeanor trapdoor system designed to inflict misery and sustained hardships.
The older we get, the clearer our perspectives on life become. This onset of clarity is wired in us. My theory is this: dormant genes of wisdom kick in at different times in people’s lives. Some people experience the jolt early on; some people never do. I like the Your Dictionary definition of wisdom: “the quality of being wise; power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding, etc.; good judgment; sagacity” (prone to evaluating information before making a decision).… Read the rest
Poetry is a penetrating art form that can give voice to the plight of incarcerated people. In his book Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind, Robert Romanyshyn studies the art of keeping the soul in mind when authoring psychological research reports. I was struck by the unusual juxtaposition of his research.… Read the rest
As I write this post, a seventeen-day prison strike is going on in this country. The coordinated actions started on August 21, 2018, and will end on September 9, 2018. The strike brings to the forefront prison reform issues that I, and countless other supporters of change, have been bringing to the attention of the general public and public servants about the pernicious grind of mass incarceration.… Read the rest
Courts routinely appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for children whose best interests are to be determined by a court of law. The Latin term ad litem means for the lawsuit. When a child is caught in a highly contentious custody dispute, the courts can appoint an independent attorney or mental health professional to represent the best interests of the child.… Read the rest
In prison, books are friends. They’re virtual tickets out of the prison yard and into worlds of escape. Science tells us that reading benefits our brain function and emotions.
Prison administrators should understand science-based findings that reading is good for people. In her article “8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book,” Abigail Wise gives four reasons that are particularly relevant to inmate readers:
- It [reading] increases intelligence
- It can boost your brain power
- Reading can make you more empathic
- Reading can help you relax
In my blog, Prison Is a Good Place to Catch Up on Your Reading, I argue that the boredom inherent in doing time and the resultant numbing of the mind caused by the never-changing, predictable daily routine of life has an antidote in the reading of books.… Read the rest
I remember meeting my first state-raised inmate. It was on the yard, walking the track at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California. State-raised refers to a person who has spent more time incarcerated than not.
Anthony was twenty-six years old, small in stature, socially awkward, and eager for recognition. He joined me walking the track one day—walking the track was a good time to talk in relative privacy—and he seized the opportunity.… Read the rest
The media is inundated with stories about sexual harassment involving public figures. These stories are not new news; sexual harassment, assault, and abuse of females are sorry chapters within the patchwork history of the human condition. Sexualization of girls and women can have unexpected long-term results that derail lives: it can result in victims’ being incarcerated in a system of blind justice.… Read the rest
My prison flashbacks sometimes come in clusters in rapid succession. They bombard my thoughts. They’re not limited to a single experience; they stymie my routine thought processes and are like a running chill down my spine. Something triggers these memories; any sensation can kick them off. The memories are vivid, dredging up feelings buried deep in my DNA.… Read the rest
Inmates have their own justice system; I learned this on the inside. Every prison yard has its own code of conduct, and the code is controlled entirely by inmates. Of course, prison administrators operate under state or federal codes designed to contain an overflow of omnipresent hostility. Under such circumstances, forceful confinement creates a precarious environment.… Read the rest